Fifteen players were taken in the Rule 5 Draft this past December. They must remain on their new team’s major league roster for the entire season (and on the active roster for at least 90 days) or be offered back to the team they were drafted from.
Two have already been returned. One is injured and likely to start the season on the disabled list. The other 12 are still fighting for big-league jobs.
Before you get too excited about one of these players turning into the next Joakim Soria or Johan Santana, remember that impact Rule 5 draftees are few and far between. Only six players from last year's draft actually saw game action in the majors. None of the six made a huge impact but a few contributed as role players, including Orioles utilityman Ryan Flaherty and Mariners reliever Lucas Luetge, and could have a future on a major league bench or in the bullpen.
As is always the case, there aren't any sure things in this year's group. They are pitchers who throw hard but have trouble throwing strikes; pitchers who throw strikes but aren't overpowering; position players who can field but can't hit; or players who hit for power but don't make much contact.
Here’s a look at this year’s picks in the order they were taken.
*Projected to make 25-man roster
*Josh Fields, RP, Houston Astros (taken from Boston Red Sox)
Spring Stats: 7.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 5 BB, 4 K
Regardless of his spring numbers, it’s Fields’ upside that earns him a spot on a Houston team in full rebuild mode. The 27 year-old, who was a first-round pick by the Mariners back in 2008, has been erratic throughout his career but he appeared to figure it out in 2012 (2.01 ERA, 58.1 IP, 38 H, 18 BB, 78 K, 12 saves between Triple-A and Double-A).
If he can get locked in again, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a few save opportunities later in the season.
*Hector Rondon, RP, Chicago Cubs (taken from Cleveland Indians)
Spring Stats: 6 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, BB, 2 K
After missing most of the past three seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery and a fractured elbow, Rondon is making a strong case for a bullpen spot with the Cubs.
Prior to the injuries, Rondon had a terrific season in Triple-A back in 2009 (3.38 ERA, 146.1 IP, 143 H, 29 BB, 137 K) as a 21-year-old. Now at age 25, he could finally reach the big leagues as a relief pitcher. If he gets through the season healthily, a return to the rotation could be a possibility in 2014.
*Danny Rosenbaum, SP/RP, Colorado Rockies (taken from Washington Nationals)
Spring Stats: 8 IP, 4 ER, 9 H, 3 BB, 0 K
The 25-year-old has the potential to be a back-of-the-rotation innings eater down the road. If the Rockies keep him, they will utilize him in long relief and as a lefty specialist.
*Ryan Pressly, RP, Minnesota Twins (taken from Boston Red Sox)
Spring Stats: 10 IP, ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 3 K
After struggling in high-A, mostly as a starter, posting a 6.28 ERA in 76 innings, Pressly has been impressive in each stop since. He had a 2.93 ERA in 14 Double-A relief appearances, a 3.86 ERA with one walk and 18 strikeouts in 14 Arizona Fall League innings, and now an impressive 10-inning stint this spring.
The Twins, who have nothing but question marks in the bullpen after Glen Perkins and Jared Burton, should have a spot for the 24-year-old Pressly.
Chris McGuiness, 1B, Cleveland Indians (taken from Texas Rangers)
Spring Stats: .171 BA (6-for-35), 2B, RBI, 4 BB, 11 K
His chances appeared to be decent shortly after the draft. Then the Indians signed Mark Reynolds, Nick Swisher and Jason Giambi, which pretty much closed the door on McGuiness’ chances unless he had a huge camp. He hasn’t.
Alfredo Silverio, OF, Miami Marlins (taken from Los Angeles Dodgers)
Spring Stats: 3-for-12, HR, 2B, RBI, 0 BB, 3 K
He’s currently dealing with a sprained elbow, which isn’t good news considering he missed all of 2012 recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Marlins, however, will be able to stash him on the disabled list for now.
If things are as bad as everyone thinks they will be in Miami this season, it shouldn’t be tough to have Silverio on the active roster for 90 days if he’s healthy. A return to action in 2013 will be beneficial, as the 25-year-old won’t have as much of a shot next season to showcase his talent with top outfield prospects Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick on the way.
Jeff Kobernus, IF/OF, Detroit Tigers (acquired from Boston Red Sox; taken from Washington Nationals)
Spring Stats: .229 BA (8-for-35), 3B, 2 RBI, 4 BB, 6 K
For a team expected to be a World Series contender, it’s interesting that they’re taking such a long look at Kobernus for a utility role. There isn’t a lot of bench competition right now, however, so he at least has a chance.
I’d expect the Tigers to look for an upgrade before the start of the season, though.
Kyle Lobstein, SP/RP, Detroit Tigers (acquired from New York Mets; taken from Tampa Bay Rays)
Spring Stats: 12 IP, 10 ER, 18 H, 6 BB, 10 K
The Tigers felt the former second-round pick was worth a look, but the lefty has gotten beaten up this spring. Expect him to be Tampa-bound in the next week or two.
Starling Peralta, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks (taken from Chicago Cubs)
Spring Stats: 3 IP, 7 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 0 K
The D’backs were taking a shot in the dark on a 22-year-old who put up good numbers in low-A in 2012. It would’ve been a great story but it’s no surprise he struggled in four appearances and was sent back to the Cubs.
Ender Inciarte, OF, Philadelphia Phillies (taken from Arizona Diamondbacks)
Spring Stats: 5-for-20, 2B, 3 BB, 6 K, SB
The 22-year-old is trying to make the jump from high-A, where he hit .319 with 28 stolen bases last season. Defensively, he’s ready to contribute and he could probably do some pinch running for the Phillies.
If they think he can bring some offense to the table down the road, he may be worth keeping around as the fifth outfielder.
*Angel Sanchez, IF, Chicago White Sox (taken from Los Angeles Angels)
Spring Stats: .333 BA (9-for-27), 3B, 2 RBI, BB, 2 K
Unless the Sox make a last-minute addition, Sanchez is a lock to make the team as a backup middle infielder. The 29-year-old has a career .612 OPS in 184 major league games, but he gives the team a good glove behind Alexei Ramirez at shortstop and Gordon Beckham at second base.
T.J. McFarland, SP/RP, Baltimore Orioles (taken from Cleveland Indians)
Spring Stats: 11.2 IP, 4 ER, 9 H, 4 BB, 5 K
A long shot due to a crowded bullpen picture in Baltimore, McFarland needed to have a great camp to make this team. After allowing four earned runs in his first 3.2 innings of the spring, he’s now pitched three-hit ball with no walks over eight scoreless innings in his last three appearances. The long shot is still in the mix.
*Coty Woods, RP, Texas Rangers (taken from Colorado Rockies)
Spring Stats: 9.1 IP, 2 ER, 9 H, 3 BB, 10 K
One of several Rangers relievers pitching well this spring, Woods could end up having the edge because he is a Rule 5 pick and can't be sent to the minors. The 25-year-old right-hander has dominated in minor league stops in low-A (2.70 ERA, 10.8 K/9), high-A (2.19 ERA, 10.2 K/9) and Double-A (0.76 ERA, 8.6 K/9) before getting beat up in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League at the end of last season.
Nate Freiman, 1B, Houston Astros (taken from San Diego Padres)
Spring Stats: .278 BA (10-for-36, HR, 2 2B, 7 RBI, 0 BB, 7 K
With Brett Wallace, Carlos Peña and Chris Carter in the mix, there doesn’t appear to be much room for Freiman as of now. But a rebuilding Astros team won’t let that stop them from holding on to the 26-year-old if they think he can help them in the future.
Braulio Lara, RP, Miami Marlins (taken from Tampa Bay Rays)
Spring Stats: 4 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 2 K
He held his own in four appearances, but not even the Marlins had room on their roster for the 24-year-old lefty, who was sent back to Tampa Bay. The Marlins will likely go with Mike Dunn and Dan Jennings as their two lefties out of the bullpen.
Click here for the Rule 5 draft results tracing back to 1997.